The Student Resistance Handbook
Unschooling explicitly provides children with far more opportunities for self-expression than conventional schooling permits, but unschooling is limited to those adults who are willing to try it with the children in their care. In school students are increasingly treated like cogs in the education manufacturing machine: the only rights students’ seem to have in school and in society are the right to be compelled to attend school and the right to obey authority. Complaints about school by students are often perceived as whining and student government is often just political show rather than genuine governance. The War on Kids is full of examples of the mistreatment of students in schools and the film’s creator, Cevin Soling, has recently added a new component to help students in school: The Student Resistance Handbook (click on Take Action to get the free download).
This is a work in progress and I’ve offered to help Cevin fine tune and promote this as a way to give voice to students who feel powerless to change anything about their school experiences. We don’t want to get students in trouble but we also don’t want to make them feel there is nothing they can do when school treats them so poorly. Please comment and let us know your opinions, pro and con.
Here’s a bit from the Handbook about the purpose of resistance for students in bad school situations:
Resistance can take many forms.
Direct confrontation will likely lead to adverse consequences and accomplish little. The complete lack of rights and due process in schools leave students in a vulnerable position. Oppressive institutions do change if large groups organize, walk out, and strike. Because of the climate of fear and routine indoctrination, it may be close to impossible to get large groups of students to rally to a cause.
A better strategy is to use the same techniques that are used to hold down students. Identify the methods of the captors, name them, and understand them. Once these methods are understood, they can be used both by small groups of students or a student acting alone. Schools are miserable oppressive environments and that waking nightmare should extend to administrators and teachers so they experience the dread of having to be there to the same degree as students. This, combined with making the cost of running the school untenable, are two of the main tactics outlined in this handbook.
The Salem witch hunts ended when the wife of the governor of Massachusetts was accused of being a witch. Joseph McCarthy was stopped when he accused the military of harboring communists. Zero Tolerance and other irrational policies will not end by students begging for change. They will end when those in power are subjected to the same treatment.
This handbook was devised to provide suggestions for legal means to minimize the oppressive nature of your incarceration in school and to expose the hypocrites who support the institution. Keep in mind that many of the people who judge, grade, punish, restrict, repress, oppress, control, and prevent students from pursuing their own best interests, actually believe they are helping students. They do not see themselves as prison guards. Pointing out how oppressive the school environment is will probably upset them and will likely harden their beliefs long before it changes their minds. When students insist on exposing inhumane conditions and agitating for change, they cannot expect support from the staff. They can expect pushback and anger. You are threatening to undermine their power.
This is what you are up against. Stand your ground. Know that you are in the right.